On October 5, 2018, President Trump signed into law H.R. 302, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The law reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for 5 years (through 2023) and establishes various policies and programs, committees and task forces, and studies relating to safety, workers, industry, and passengers. The law also reauthorizes the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and addresses aviation security.
H.R. 302 is the result of congressional staff and leadership negotiating H.R. 4 and S. 1405, the separate versions of FAA reauthorization that the House and Senate considered earlier this year and in 2017. The final text of H.R. 302 is a mix of those previous versions, compromises between the two, and, in some cases, removal of entire sections.
The new law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House by a 398-23 vote and in the Senate by a 93-6 vote. The TWU supported passage of H.R. 302 because it provides renewed investment in and stability to our national aviation system. It also makes improvements to aviation safety by advancing policy reforms that protect frontline workers and passengers.
Through meetings, exchanges of ideas and edits, and member advocacy, the TWU worked hard to represent our interests and shape this bill in ways that benefit TWU members. This includes: making sure maintenance workers have a voice in discussions about their work; limiting industry’s efforts to weaken maintenance certificates; eliminating language requiring continuous background vetting unrelated to aviation security; guaranteeing flight attendants 10 hours of rest; addressing sexual assault on aircraft; and a host of other provisions.
Below is a summary of the provisions contained in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 that will impact the work and lives of TWU members. You may also view on the TWU website the letters that International President Samuelsen sent to the House and Senate along with the press statement he issued after passage of the bill.
With H.R. 302 now enacted, the TWU will work to make sure the law is implemented in ways that protect aviation workers and passenger safety.
Summary of TWU-Relevant Provisions
Sec. 202 Safety Oversight and Certification Advisory Committee; Sec. 221 Flight Standards Performance Objectives and Metrics; Sec. 222 FAA Task Force on Flight Standards Reform
Creates an advisory committee and task force to provide advice on FAA safety oversight and certification work and flight standards activities. FAA must consult with labor among others in reaching such objectives.
Sec 303 Safety Critical Staffing
Requires FAA to update the safety critical staffing model to determine the number of aviation safety inspectors needed to fulfill FAA’s safety oversight mission. The Inspector General must review this model and report to Congress on findings.
Sec. 307 Emergency Medical Equipment on Passenger Aircraft
Within 1 year, FAA must review current regulations regarding emergency medical equipment, including first-aid kits, and update the regulations as needed.
Sec. 309 Call to Action Airline Engine Safety Review
Within 90 days, FAA must initiate a Call to Action safety review on airline engine safety in order to bring stakeholders together to share best practices and implement actions to address airline engine safety. The review shall include a process for stakeholders (including labor) to provide feedback and share best practices. FAA must report to Congress on the review, including recommendations as warranted.
Sec. 320 Voluntary Reports of Operational or Maintenance Issues Related to Aviation Safety
It is the practice of an aviation safety action program (ASAP) that it shall be presumed that a voluntary report meets the criteria as a valid report under an ASAP. Any dissemination of a report that hasn’t undergone review by an event review committee (ERC) shall include a disclaimer stating that it hasn’t been reviewed and may subsequently be determined to be ineligible for inclusion under ASAP. A report shall be rejected if, after review, the ERC or FAA member of an ERC in the case that an ERC doesn’t reach consensus, determines the report fails to meet criteria for acceptance. In cases where a report is rejected, the enforcement-related incentive offered to the individual for making a report and the protection from disclosure of the report shall not apply.
Sec. 324 GAO Report on FAA Enforcement Policy
Within 1 year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) must study the effectiveness of FAA’s Compliance Philosophy Order, including whether it impacted safety incident reports, enforcement penalties, or compliance with safety regulations.
Sec. 325 Annual Safety Incident Report
Within 1 year and every 5 years thereafter, FAA shall submit a report regarding commercial airline safety oversight. The report must describe FAA’s oversight, its risk-based oversight methods, and a description of cases where the timeline for recurrent reviews of airlines’ performance are advanced.
Sec. 326 Aircraft Air Quality
Within 1 year, FAA must consult with stakeholders to create and make publicly available on FAA’s website educational material for flight attendants, aircraft maintenance technicians, and others on how to respond to incidents onboard commercial aircraft involving smoke or fumes. Within 180 days, in consultation with stakeholders, FAA must issue guidance for workers regarding how to report such incidents and guidance regarding how airlines must report incidents through the Service Difficulty Reporting (SDR) System.
Within 180 days, FAA must commission a study by the Airline Cabin Environment Research Center of Excellence to identify and measure the constituents and their levels resulting from bleed air in the cabins of a representative set of commercial aircraft operated in the U.S.; assess the potential health effects of those constituents on passengers and cabin and flight deck crew; identify technologies suitable to provide reliable and accurate warning of bleed air contamination, including those to effectively monitor the air supply system; and identify techniques to prevent fume events.
Within 18 months, TSA must submit to Congress a report on the feasibility, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness of certification and installation of systems to evaluate bleed air quality. FAA may conduct a pilot program to evaluate the effectiveness of the technologies identified.
Sec. 328 Report on Airline and Passenger Safety
Within 180 days TSA must report to Congress on the average age of commercial aircraft owned and operated by U.S. airlines; the over-all use of planes; the number of hours aircraft are in flight; the impact of metal fatigue on aircraft usage and safety; a review on contractor assisted maintenance; and re-evaluation of the rules of inspection of aging aircraft.
Sec. 333 Safe Air Transportation of Lithium Cells and Batteries
Within 90 days, DOT shall conform U.S. regulations on the air transport of lithium cells and batteries with the requirements in the 2015-2016 edition of ICAO’s Technical Instructions.
Sec. 335 Flight Attendant Duty Period Limitations and Rest Requirements
Within 30 days, DOT shall modify regulations to ensure that flight attendants scheduled to a duty period of 14 hours or less are given a scheduled rest period of at least 10 consecutive hours. The rest period is not reducible under any circumstances.
Within 90 days, commercial airlines must submit to FAA for review and acceptance a fatigue risk management plan for flight attendants that shall include the following: current flight time and duty period limitations; a rest scheme consistent with such limitations that enables the management of fatigue, including annual training to increase awareness of fatigue, its effects, and countermeasures; and develop and use a methodology that continually assesses the effectiveness of implementation of the plan, including its ability to improve alertness and mitigate performance errors. Within 1 year, FAA shall review and accept or reject these plans. Airlines shall update them every 2 years and the FAA must review and accept or reject the plans within 1 year of their submission. If FAA rejects a plan, it must suggest modifications for resubmission of the plan/update.
Sec. 337 Aircraft Cabin Evacuation Procedures
FAA shall review evacuation certification with regard to emergency conditions, crew procedures used for emergency evacuations, relevant changes to passenger demographics and legal requirements, and changes to passenger seating configurations.
Sec. 338 Sense of Congress
It’s the sense of Congress that each airline should have in place policies and procedures to address sexual misconduct, including those to report misconduct, communicate to passengers and workers about the rights of individuals, train workers on recognizing and responding to, and notifying law enforcement of, instances of sexual misconduct, and ensure other actions are taken to respond effectively. Those who perpetrate sexual misconduct should be held liable under applicable federal and state laws.
Sec. 339 Civil Penalties for Interference
Increases by $10,000 (to $35,000) the fine that can be levied on those who physically assault flight attendants or others on an aircraft or threatens to do so. It also creates an identical fine for those who sexually assault flight attendants or others on an aircraft or threatens to do so.
Sec. 339A National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force
DOT must establish a National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force to a) review practices, protocols, and requirements of airlines in responding to allegations of sexual misconduct by passengers onboard aircraft, including training, reporting, and data collection; and b) provide recommendations on training, reporting, and data collection regarding such misconduct that are informed by a) above as well as passengers’ firsthand experiences with misconduct.
Unions representing flight attendants and pilots, industry, and others shall be represented on the Task Force. The Task Force shall issue recommendations for a) addressing allegations of sexual misconduct by passengers onboard aircraft, including employee training; b) on ways for passengers involved to report such allegations; c) on how to most effectively provide data on misconduct and to whom the data collected should be reported and in a way that protects the privacy and confidentiality of the individuals and airlines involved to better understand the frequency and severity of such misconduct; and d) recommendations for flight attendants, pilots, and other appropriate airline personnel on law enforcement notification of incidents of misconduct. The Task Force shall review and use firsthand accounts of misconduct and consider other matters as necessary.
Within 1 year, the Task Force shall submit its recommendations and findings to DOT, and within 180 days from then, DOT shall submit to Congress a plan to address the report’s recommendations. DOT shall make changes to guidance, policy, regulations as necessary within 1 year of submitting its plan to Congress. Within 1 year after submitting its plan, DOT may issue regulations necessary to require airlines to develop policies concerning sexual misconduct in accordance with the recommendations/findings of the Task Force.
Sec. 339B Reporting Process for Sexual Misconduct Onboard Aircraft
Within 2 years, GAO shall coordinate with agencies to establish a streamlined process, based on the plan required by 339A(e) above, for those involved with misconduct onboard aircraft to report the misconduct to law enforcement in a way that protects the privacy and confidentiality of those involved. The process developed must be displayed publicly on the websites of the DOT; FBI; and DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime and the Office on Violence Against Women.
Sec. 403 Cell Phone Call Ban
Directs DOT to issue regulations prohibiting inflight voice communications using cell phones. On-duty flight crews and flight attendants are exempt from this ban.
Sec. 404 Improved Notification of Insecticide Use
Requires airlines and others to disclose online that the destination country may require the airline to use insecticides in the aircraft cabin.
Sec. 406 Consumer Information on Actual Flight Times
Directs DOT to study whether it’s feasible to require airlines to disclose to consumers, upon reasonable request, the projected period between the actual wheels-off and wheels-on times for a reportable flight, and to require airlines to display online information about the actual wheels-off and wheels-on times during the most recent calendar month for the reportable flight.
Sec. 408 Training on Human Trafficking for Certain Staff
Requires airlines to provide workers who regularly interact with passengers training to recognize and respond to potential human trafficking victims.
Sec. 409 Prohibition Against Smoking on Passenger Flights
Bans electronic cigarettes.
Sec. 414 Involuntary Changes to Itineraries
Requires DOT to review the rate at which airlines change passengers’ itineraries more than 24 hours before departure where the new itinerary provided involves additional stops or departs three hours earlier or later and compensation is not offered to the passenger.
Sec. 417 Protection of Pets on Airplanes
Makes it unlawful for anyone to place a live animal in an overhead storage compartment on commercial aircraft, punishable by fine.
Sec. 425 TICKETS Act
Carriers may not deny a revenue passenger from traveling on a confirmed reservation to board, or involuntarily remove the passenger, once s/he has checked-in for the flight prior to the deadline and has been accepted by the gate agent to board. This will not apply if the passenger poses a safety, security, or health risk or engages in obscene, disruptive, or otherwise unlawful behavior. DOT must eliminate the limitation on compensation for those denied boarding involuntarily.
Sec. 426 Report on Availability of Lavatories on Commercial Aircraft
Within 180 days, GAO must submit a report assessing the availability of functional lavatories on aircraft, the extent to which flights takeoff without functional lavatories, the ability of passengers with disabilities to use the lavatories, the complaints DOT and airlines receive about them, and the extent to which airlines are reducing lavatories to add more seats and whether that poses accessibility issues.
Sec. 428 Widespread Disruptions
In the event of a widespread disruption, airlines must immediately publish online a clear statement indicating whether the airline will provide impacted passengers hotel accommodations, ground transportation, meal vouchers, sleeping facilities, or arrange for other air transportation.
Sec. 437 Harmonization of Service Animal Standards
Directs DOT to issue a final rule within 18 months that defines ‘service animal’ and develops minimum standards for what’s required of service and emotional support animals carried in aircraft cabins. In doing so, DOT must consider at a minimum:
- Whether to align the definition with that used by the Justice Department;
- Reasonable measures to ensure pets are not claimed as service animals (such as photo ID identifying the type and breed of animal and the service it provides; documentation indicating whether or not it’s been trained by the owner or approved training organization; whether to require from a licensed physician documentation about the tasks the animal provides; and whether passengers can be accompanied by more than 1 service animal;
- Reasonable measures to ensure the safety of passengers (such as whether to require health and vaccination records and 3rd party proof of behavioral training);
- The impact additional requirements could have on those with disabilities; and
- If such impacts could be eliminated or mitigated.
Sec. 440 Regulations Ensuring assistance for passengers with disabilities in air transportation
Within 180 days, DOT shall review and revise as necessary regulations to ensure that those with disabilities who request assistance receive dignified, timely, and effective assistance, and review and revise as necessary the regulations on training workers who provide physical assistance to those with disabilities.
Sec. 451 Authorizes Essential Air Service program
Funds the Essential Air Service program, which helps provide flights to rural communities that would otherwise likely not have air transportation.
Sec. 535 Study on allergic reactions
Within 120 days, FAA shall study the prevalence of allergic reactions onboard flights and whether airlines universally report reactions to FAA. The study shall consider the frequency of first aid kit inventory checks to ensure medicine to prevent anaphylactic shock is onboard aircraft.
Sec. 536 Oxygen Mask Design Study
Within 180 days, FAA shall review and evaluate the design and effectiveness of commercial aircraft oxygen masks, including whether the design is adequate or whether changes could increase the correct use of masks by passengers.
Sec. 551 Employee Assault Prevention and Response Plans
Within 90 days, each commercial airline must submit to FAA for review and acceptance an Employee Assault Prevention and Response Plan related to customer service agents and developed in consultation with unions. The plan must include reporting protocols for: those who’ve been verbally or physically assaulted; immediate notification of law enforcement following an assault; informing federal law enforcement with respect to specific violations; ensuring passengers involved in an incident are not allowed to move through airport security or board an aircraft until law enforcement can assess the incident and take appropriate action; and for airlines to inform passengers of the laws protecting employees who have security duties at an airport.
The section also requires initial and recurrent training with respect to the plan, including training on de-escalation, written protocols, and reporting the incidents. Within 180 days, the GAO shall study the violent crimes against customer service agents, including determining whether state and local laws and resources are adequate to deter or address crimes of violence and recommendations on any identified gaps.
Sec. 552 Study on Training of Customer-Facing Air Carrier Employees
Within 1 year, DOT shall study the training for customer-facing workers, including an analysis of training on managing disputes on aircraft; how schools can work with stakeholders to review training, produce recommendations, and provide supplemental training; and the effectiveness of the Employee Assault Prevention and Response Plans (required by the section above).
Sec. 554 Prioritizing the HIMS Program and Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program (FADAP)
FAA shall continue to prioritize the Flight Attendant Drug and Alcohol Program. DOT shall make an agreement with the TRB to study FADAP and HIMS (the pilots’ program) and others within the DOT’s agencies and make recommendations on how to implement programs or make changes to existing programs that help workers get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse and return to work.
Sec. 582 Portability of Repairman Certificates
Requires FAA to task the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee with making recommendations on the regulatory and policy changes, as appropriate, to allow a repairman certificate issued under 14 CFR 65.101 to be portable from one employing certificate holder to another. Within 1 year of receiving such recommendations, FAA may take such action as the Administrator considers appropriate with respect to those recommendations.
Sec. 601 Student Outreach Report
Within 180 days, FAA must report to Congress about its outreach efforts to elementary and secondary students who are interested in careers in STEM to prepare and inspire students for aviation careers and mitigate anticipated shortage of pilots and other aviation professionals.
Sec. 602 Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force
Within 90 days FAA shall establish a Youth Access to American Jobs in Aviation Task Force that must, within 1 year, submit recommendations to FAA regarding setting high school students on the path toward careers in aviation (e.g. maintenance) and helping those who complete career/technical courses to secure apprenticeships, workforce development programs, or aviation careers. In developing those recommendations, the Task Force shall identify industry trends that dis/encourage youth to pursue aviation careers; consider how FAA and others can coordinate efforts to support aviation careers; identify methods of enhancing apprenticeships, job skills training, outreach programs etc.; and identify potential sources of funding to fulfill recommendations.
Sec. 611 Sense of Congress Regarding Women in Aviation
It’s the sense of Congress that the aviation industry should explore opportunities to encourage and support women to pursue an aviation career.
Sec. 612 Supporting Women’s Involvement in the Aviation Field
FAA shall create and facilitate the Women in Aviation Advisory Board to promote organizations and programs that provide education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women into the aviation industry. Within 9 months, FAA shall appoint Board members, including non-profits (unions) and various others. Within 18 months, the Board shall present a plan to the FAA on trends, efforts, and opportunities to encourage women to enter the industry.
Sec. 621 Aviation and Aerospace Workforce of the Future
It’s the sense of Congress that the aerospace and aviation industries are important to the national economy, and that public and private education institutions and the industry should identify and promote career paths to young people to enter the field.
Sec. 622 Aviation and Aerospace Workforce of the Future Study
Within 90 days, GAO shall evaluate the current and future supply of the workforce; identify factors influencing the supply of workers, including barriers to entry; and identify methods to increase workers. GAO shall consult with industry and labor on the study.
Sec. 624 Aviation Maintenance Industry Technical Workforce
Within 180 days, FAA must issue a final rule modernizing the training programs taught at aviation maintenance technician schools (AMTS) and consult with labor and others to develop and publish guidance or model curricula for AMTS to ensure the workforce meets the industry’s needs. FAA must ensure the training programs are revised and updated in correlation with airman certification standards as necessary to reflect current technology and maintenance practices and publish updates at least every two years.
This section also requires a GAO study on aviation technical workers. The study shall: analyze the government’s current classification of these workers and how changes to the classification system could affect government data and workforce projections; analyze how FAA regulations governing certification, testing, and education programs impact this workforce; develop recommendations on FAA regulations and policies that could be improved to modernize training programs and address industry workforce needs; develop recommendations for better government coordination to support workforce growth; and develop recommendations about the need for funding and equipment needed to grow the workforce.
Sec. 625 Aviation Workforce Development Programs
Directs DOT to establish a $5 million grant program for eligible projects to support the education and recruitment of AMT workers and develop the maintenance workforce. Airlines, repair stations, unions, higher education institutions, and state/local governments may apply for a grant. Eligible projects are those that establish new programs to teach technical skills used in aviation maintenance; establish scholarships/apprenticeships for those interested in the aviation maintenance industry; support outreach to primary, secondary, and post-secondary students or communities underrepresented by the industry about maintenance careers; support educational opportunities related to aviation maintenance in economically disadvantaged areas; support transition to careers in aviation maintenance; or otherwise enhance aviation maintenance technical education or the workforce. In reviewing grant applications, DOT shall consult, as appropriate, with unions and others.
Sec. 1931 Public Area Security Working Group
TSA shall establish a Working Group to engage with stakeholders to develop non-binding recommendations for enhancing security in public areas of transportation facilities (including transit, rail motorcoach facilities). Recommendations shall include sharing security threat information; coordinated response procedures; infrastructure protection; and preventing threats through training, exercises, worker vetting, reporting suspicious activity, etc. TSA shall report on this work and share best practices for protecting the public areas of transportation facilities. Also, TSA shall review regulations regarding the transportation of a firearm and ammunition.
Sec. 1932 Public Area Best Practices
TSA shall periodically submit information on best practices developed by TSA or stakeholders relating to protecting public spaces of transportation infrastructure from emerging threats. TSA shall expand and improve the City and Airport Threat Assessment to capture, communicate, quantity, and apply intelligence to help inform measures to mitigate threats. Such mitigation measures including measuring risks and determining employee inspection operations based on changing risk levels. TSA shall expand programs that increase security threat awareness, education, and training to include public area employees (cleaning companies, cab companies etc).
Sec. 1933 Airport Worker Access Controls Cost and Feasibility Study
Within 1 year, TSA shall submit a study on the cost and feasibility of implementing enhanced employee inspection measures at all access points between non-secured and secured areas at a statistically significant number of different types of airports. The study shall assess the cost, operational efficiency, and security effectiveness of requiring all employees to present for inspection at every access point and deploying some/all of the following: a) secure door utilizing card and pin entry or biometric technology; b) surveillance video recording; c) advanced screening; d) TSA’s Advanced Threat Local Allocation Strategy tool. The study shall include: costs of establishing a minimum number of employee entry and exit points and a comparison of estimated costs and security effectiveness of (a)-(d).
Sec. 1934 Securing Airport Worker Access Points
Within 180 days, TSA shall consult with industry, airports, and labor to enhance the security awareness of credentialed workers regarding insider threats to aviation security and assess credentialing standards and practices, including the updates required under the 2016 FAA extension.
The section requires TSA to report to Congress on the number of credentialed aviation worker populations at airports that are continuously vetted through the FBI criminal database (Rap Back program). Within 180 days, TSA must establish a centralized database that includes the names of those who have had their airport-issued or aircraft operator-issued badge revoked for violating security requirements. The provision requires TSA to create a process to allow those whose name is mistakenly entered to correct the record and have their name removed from the database. And the section states that the database must not include the names of those whose badges were revoked because of termination or ceasing of employment unrelated to a violation of a security requirement or unrelated to a determination that the individual poses a threat to aviation security.
Lastly, this section requires individuals to provide their social security number when applying for SIDA badges; requires industry to consult with TSA on advanced technology that could be used for securing airport access points; calls on TSA to find means of leveraging resources to inform its work on insider threats; ensure that TSA’s random employee inspection efforts are strategic; and conduct covert testing of TSA’s employee inspection and measure its effectiveness.
Sec. 1935 Law Enforcement Office Reimbursement Program
TSA shall increase the presence of law enforcement officers in public areas of airports, including baggage claim, ticket counters, and nearby roads; increase presence at screening checkpoints; reduce response times; and provide visible deterrents.
Sec. 1936 Airport Perimeter and Access Control Security
Directs TSA to update several of its transportation security risk assessments, including the 2012 National Strategy for Airport and Access Control Security.
Sec. 1960 Crew Member Self-Defense Training
TSA and FAA shall continue to carry out, and encourage airline employees to participate in, voluntary self-defense training.
Sec. 1961 Flight Desk Safety and Security
Within 90 days, TSA and FAA shall complete a detailed threat assessment to identify any safety or security risks associated with unauthorized access to flight decks on commercial aircraft and any measures that should be taken based on the risks. TSA and FAA shall disseminate RTCA Document (DO-329) Aircraft Secondary Barriers and Alternative Flight Desk Security Procedures to convey methods and best practices to protect the flight deck.
Sec. 1964 Surface Transportation Security Assessment and Implementation of Risk-Based Strategy
Within 1 year, TSA must assess the vulnerabilities and risks to surface transportation systems (transit, motorcoach, rail). At minimum, the assessment must consider intelligence; security breaches and attacks at domestic and international transportation facilities and the vulnerabilities/risk of the surface modes; evaluate the vetting and security training of workers and others with access to sensitive/secure areas of the transportation network; and consider input from representatives of different transportation modes, advisory councils and federal agencies. Within 180 days of the assessment, TSA must use the results to develop and implement a cross-cutting strategy that addresses all surface modes, mitigates risk, plans allocation of resources, sets metrics for the strategy, and includes a process to share intelligence information.